On 2 November 2012, the Dutch competition authority ("NMa") gave the green light to three hospital concentrations after the parties committed themselves to observing a price ceiling.
Initially, the NMa concluded that the proposed concentrations would significantly impede competition on the Dutch market. The NMa therefore opened a second-phase investigation, in which it investigated several scenarios. One of the scenarios indicated that the health insurers would not have sufficient bargaining power to discipline the hospitals. In the absence of such disciplining by the health insurers the NMa considered that there would be a risk of the hospitals significantly raising their prices.
Subsequently, the hospitals committed themselves to observing a price ceiling in that they agreed not to increase the weighted average prices for the so called "DBC products in the B-segment". The NMa confined itself to considering whether the price ceiling met its concerns. It did not however provide a substantive assessment of the price ceiling.
The remedy is only temporary, though it remains unclear when the price ceiling will expire. It will be in force until at least 1 January 2016, which period can be extended with one year.